Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Romance faves... with just a little bit about Mr. Potter

— OR —

Saturday night, I went to two bookstores in search of Harry Potter — and they were both sold out!

I felt a little silly. Just hours earlier, I had been assuring someone else that the whole "pre-order" frenzy was just a scam on the part of booksellers to make you part with your money (and to commit to their store) earlier than you really need to. Deathly Hollows was going to have the largest print run of any book ever. What kind of store would actually run out of stock?

The kind I shop at, apparently.

This has not happened to me before. But, while I'm certainly interested in what happens to Harry (And PLEASE don't tell me... I JUST got my hands on a copy and am about to start reading!), I really am more of a casual fan than anything. I was willing to see what else was new — and (yay!) I found the latest Julia Quinn, The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever.

It goes without saying that I'm a hopeless romantic, but I'm not a big "romance" reader — though I was for a while. I went through a spell where I would go to the library every couple of weeks and come back with a stack of historical paperbacks a mile high.

But, after awhile, I had to stop. One can only read about so many Regency rakes and tortured knights ravishing beautiful maidens without beginning to feel brainless and numb. The pencil-thin characters weren't helping me differentiate between the oh-so-similar plots and I was beginning to feel like I was reading the same book over and over again.

So, I set those Harlequins aside and moved on to more "literary" offerings that I like to call "romantic fiction" rather than "romance novels." But I make an annual exception for Julia Quinn.

Why? Because her breezy, light-hearted books can be laugh-out-loud funny AND sweetly poignant. She actually creates a relationship between her main characters based on something other than sex. Walking away from a Julia Quinn novel, I always get the feeling that her main couple are best friends as well as lovers.

She also captures the family dynamic as well as any author I know. This is evidenced in her eight-volume Bridgerton series. Each book tells the story of one of the alphabetically-named siblings of the Bridgerton clan. (In birth order, though not necessarily book order: Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, and Hyacinth.)

Throughout the series they fight; they laugh; they cry; and, deep down, they all love each other. You haven't lived until you've attended one of their über-competitive games of Pall Mall (they play with something called the Mallet of Death), or read one of Lady Whistledown's gossip rag entries about them.

This new book had all the good humor and likable characters I've become accustomed to when reading Julia Quinn. In fact, I liked it about as well as anything she's ever written. Anytime you have a hero that, in the prologue, promises a 10-year-old girl that someday she will "grow into herself" and "be as beautiful as you already are smart," I think you have a keeper.

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At Fri Sep 07, 05:18:00 AM EDT, Blogger Evenstar said...

I came to ur blog hoping to find info on the elusive 'Thorn of the Kingdom' of which i had only seen the outtakes which seems very popular. I regret not finding out about fictionpress early enough to read it *gloom* Anyway Julia Quinn sounds great! Im gonna check up on it. I once got through a Julie Garwood phase too and was heartily sick of romance novels for a while..


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